I was 14 years young when I found “League of Legends,” an online video game where teams of either 3 vs. 3 or 5 vs. 5 battle to destroy one another’s bases. I had been playing video games all my life, dedicating hundreds of hours to “Pokémon Emerald” and tearing my hair out trying to defeat Ganondorf in “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.” But the majority of the games — with the exception of “Mario Kart Wii” — were single player games.

I would usually come home from school and play these games while my sister would be playing with her “stuffies.” These activities would isolate me from the real world and transport me into one I wished I was in. For the majority of my childhood, video games and books were ways of me escaping the issues I dealt with in real life. But this unhealthy reliance changed when I found “League of Legends” (LoL).

LoL requires you to play with other people, to work together to win — or else you’ll lose. This was a new experience for me. My games had been solely dependent on me, I didn’t need others to play or win. But LoL forced me to join a new virtual community. This also opened up the possibility for my friends in the real world to play with me.

After school I would come home and instantly start playing LoL. As more of my friends started to play, the more fun the game became. They would come over to my house or I would go over to theirs, and we would play LoL for hours. I’m talking six to seven-hour LoL sessions. While that much time planted in front of a screen isn’t great for the eyes or back, the game bound our group together.

Every weekend from eighth grade till eleventh my friends and I would gather to play LoL. We would break up the multiple hours of gaming by playing soccer in my backyard or walking to my elementary school and playing capture the flag. I will never forget how much fun I had those years. Without LoL, my group and I would still be close — but I know that it made us the family we are now.

While this idea of a video game bringing people together may seem strange to someone who isn’t an avid gamer, it’s more common than one may think. Video games are enormously popular across the planet. Games ranging from “Fortnite” to League of Legends each have millions of players, and each of community is filled with communities and friendships.

League of Legends also has almost 10 professional leagues where players are paid handsomely for their prowess in the game. League of Legends is the most played video game in the world, and one connects to a community of nearly 80 million people when they play. While I may not know all 80 million of those players, we all share a common love for a game that has brought all together.

While sadly my family doesn’t play LoL — or really any video games for the matter besides my sister’s never-ending love for “Nintendogs” — my extended Trinity family plays video games. Most of the time I spend with my friends here is us sitting around, making fun of each-other and playing FIFA, a simulation of soccer.

Personally, FIFA isn’t my favorite game. Before coming to Trinity, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. But what I do like is spending time with my friends, spending hours losing six and seven nothing to my friend Jonah. While losing is an awful feeling (I am incredibly competitive), Trinity wouldn’t be the same without the friends I’ve been lucky enough to make here.

In my life, video games have been an integral part in connecting me to the outside world and building long lasting friendships I hope to have for as long as I walk this big blue marble. Without them, I may still be skipping recess to play chess against my teachers.

While video games have their negatives, they have the capability that all hobbies and sports have: to build communities and friendships. And for me, that’s all that matters.

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